Vocational Skills Open Opportunities Among Young Mothers in Temeke

Beautician sisters from DREAMSLeah, 19 (left) and Irene, 22 (right) are sisters from Tanzania. They both were forced to drop out of secondary school because of unexpected pregnancy. Leah left school when she was in Form TII after she conceived while her sister, Irene was expelled from school in Form III for the same reason.

After being expelled from school, their boyfriends abandoned them upon learning that they were pregnant. At home things were not better. Their parents felt like they were a bad omen to the family. They felt ashamed of them and the girls were exposed to the realities of being abandoned at the young age. Then they heard about the Out of School Study Groups (OSSG) platform, a part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge project. The sisters wasted no time and seized the opportunity to enroll immediately. There, they learned a number of skills such as self-esteem and confidence and even vocational skills in beauty and salons.

“I am happy now that people hire us to apply make-up on them. On Sundays when people want to church, we are so busy with customers. Last week, my sister and I were hired to go to another region to style and apply make-up to a bride!”- Irene

Irene recalls how people used to treat her and her sister after they dropped out of school. All the people who used to look down on them could not believe that they could have possessed such important beauty skills.

“At first no one paid any attention to us, they thought that we were the usual failures. After we prepared the bride and applied make-up on her, many people were so happy and impressed with our skills”- Leah.

The sisters, who work as a team, have been booked for another wedding event scheduled in October 2018.Irene and Leah also broadened their understanding of HIV/AIDS and have learned how to protect themselves.

Neema from DREAMS

Neema, 21, is another young woman who was dropped out of school in Form II because she was pregnant. She then joined OSSG organized by WEI/Bantwana under the DREAMS IC project. This enabled her to acquire new knowledge and skills and thus revive her dreams of success. 

WEI/Bantwana took her to a training to learn cooking skills. There, she learned lots of skills including cleanliness and customer care. She cooked so well that her parents started appreciating her new skills. After graduating the cooking course, she got an internship at Msasani Beach, a three-star hotel in Dar es Salaam.

It was a very big step in my life. I went from Mbagala, the underdeveloped suburbs of the city, to a three-star hotel, working! I feel like I am becoming somebody who is on her way to becoming a success. At the hotel, I am working as a waiter.

Neema says that earlier, she used to be too shy to speak or do something in front of strangers. The training and her new experience has helped her build up confidence.

Also, I have known my health status as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned. That is me, the new Neema!

World Education Inc./Bantwana through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR funded DREAMS Innovation Challenge project enrolled 330 Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGWY) into Out of School Study Groups (OSSG) platform. OSSG seeks to address the multiple vulnerabilities of young moms and pregnant adolescent girls and young women (AGWY) with comprehensive services. OSSG builds resilience by equipping girls with knowledge and skills to keep themselves and their babies safe and healthy. Out of the total enrollment, 258 AGWY are active participants in weekly sessions held in the 16 identified safe spaces. Recently, WEI/Bantwana trained 96 AGWYs in beauty skills and 100 in cooking skills. Random interviews were conducted with various OSSG members to assess how the girls are doing after the training. This is an excerpt from those conversations.